Second Awarding of JSPS Prize
On 9 March, the second ceremony was held to award the JSPS Prize. Selected were 24 talented young researchers with excellent records of scientific inquiry and promise to become trailblazers of scientific research in Japan. The ceremony for the FY2005 Prize was held at The Japan Academy in the presence of His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino.
Selection of JSPS Prize Awardees
JSPS sent out requests for Prize nominees to 3,059 Japanese research institutions and academic societies, from which it received 265 names in June. Adding the 178 carryover nominees from the prior year, 443 researchers were screened by the staff of JSPS's Research Center for Science Systems (directed by Dr. Tasuku Honjo, professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, and staffed by two deputy directors, 16 senior program officers and 86 program officers). Based of their results, the JSPS Prize Selection Committee (chaired by Dr. Leo Esaki, president, The Science and Technology Promotion Foundation of Ibaraki, and comprising 13 members) made the final decision on the 24 awardees.
The ceremony for awarding the JSPS Prize was held in conjunction with the awarding of the Japan Academy Medal. At the ceremony on 9 March, JSPS president Prof. Motoyuki Ono offered an opening message, followed by a report on the selection process by Dr. Esaki. Prof. Ono presented the 24 recipients with a certificate of merit, a medal and purse of ¥1.1 million. Following the awarding of the JSPS Prize, the Japan Academy Medal was presented to five of the researchers. Dr. Hiroo Inokuchi, chairman of the Academy's selection committee, explained the vetting process. Japan Academy president Dr. Saburo Nagakura delivered an address and presented the medal and a commemorative gift to the awardees.
Then, Prince Akishino offered remarks, followed by Mr. Akio Yuki, Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, who read a congratulatory message from the minister. Finally, representing the recipients, a message of appreciation was offered by Dr. Izumi Hoshi (Hamada), associate professor, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
After the ceremony, a celebration party was held. Attended by Prince Akishino, the Prize recipients, their guests, and the ceremony attendees, an atmosphere conducive to pleasant conversation was enjoyed by all.
The JSPS Prize was established in FY 2004 with an objective of helping to raise the level of scientific research in Japan to the world's highest standard. It does this by recognizing at an early stage in their careers young researchers rich in both talent and creativity. The Prize is meant to encourage the young recipients in advancing their work.
Up to FY 2005, the Prize was awarded to Japanese researchers and foreign researchers with permanent residency status. From FY 2006, foreign researchers who have conducted research at a Japanese research institution for five years or longer are also eligible. In any case, all must be under 45 years of age and possess a doctoral degree or equivalent expertise and have compiled an excellent record of research achievements in a field of the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.
Comments by Dr. Leo Esaki, Chair, JSPS Prize Selection Committee
Having over my long career achieved some notable research results, I was lucky to have been showered with many awards of merit. Among them, I received my first really prestigious award at age 34; it was the Nishina Memorial Prize. It served as a stepping stone to my subsequent research activities. I am happy that the JSPS Prize can act as the same kind of catalyst for its young recipients.
As it happens, all of my research successes have been underscored by two factors: one was inevitably my own ability and the other, what you might call the "smile of the goddess of chance." I dare say that the more lady luck's power outshined than my own ability was when I made findings that surprised myself, some even being seen as breakthroughs. Therein lies the special charm of research, but also the difficulty of evaluating researchers.
Having compiled excellent records of research accomplishments rich in both originality and creativity, the recipients of the JSPS Prize are expected to assume future roles of global leadership in their respective fields. Using this Prize as a springboard, I look forward to them committing themselves even more devotedly to their work and going on to achieve research milestones, while playing ever more active, prominent roles in the international scientific arena.